I can’t believe it’s just over two years since I jetted of to Paris for the first time solo to fulfil a lifelong dream of exploring the city of lights. There has been a subsequent trip which I’ll save for another post, but for now I’m reminiscing about my 2015 visit. When I decided to take the plunge and book this trip the whole idea was to travel and experience the city as if I were a Parisian i.e for the time I was there to pretend, if even just for a moment, that living in the city was my everyday way of life.
When putting together my itinerary for the trip I was going to share a hotel room with a friend for the week, but after stumbling across Airbnb, an apartment seemed like the obvious way to go given that there would be far more space and a small kitchen to cook in so that I didn’t have to eat out for every meal.
The plan was to spend the first 5 nights in my own little flat and then meet a friend and move to a bigger flat we could share. I scoured Airbnb for weeks trying to find the perfect spot, studying the various arrondissements (arrondissements are the equivalent of suburbs in South Africa) in search of an area that both embodied typical Parisian living as well as offering easy access to public transport. Let’s also not forget that our meagre South African Rand doesn’t get you very far when being converted to Euros so of course that was a big deciding factor in where to stay. In my search for the perfect base from which to explore I came across Jessica’s apartment in Montmartre and fell in love. The description of Montmartre noted that the area was frequented by many famous artists including Picasso and Dali in years gone by and still today the vibe is very arty: right up my ally!
Booking through Airbnb was really simple, I found the apartment, asked to book and wrote a short covering letter introducing myself to my host Jessica and clicked submit. Your host then has the opportunity to review your letter and confirm if they would be comfortable with you staying in their home or not. I didn’t wait long for the confirmation from Jessica confirming my stay came back and I was booked! Inside I was shouting ‘”YAY” jumping up and down like a school, kid but of course when I received the confirmation I was sitting at work so I had to observe a certain amount of decorum.
Some Airbnb hosts offer to share a living space with them as hosts but I chose the option of having a whole apartment to myself, which given there is only one bed in Jessica’s flat was pretty obvious. Jessica gave a detailed description of how to find the apartment and I got there with relative ease. I arrived in the heat of summer and the six flights of stairs up to her flat were rather unexpected, but I made it up and on opening the door breathed a deep sigh of relief: I was home!
Sitting here reminiscing about the few short days I got to relic in Jessica’s apartment I can’t help but recount the moments that come to mind first when thinking back….
- Playing French music on her record player in the evening transporting me to another era. Perhaps to the 1920’s razz-matazz when extravagant parties where enjoyed in the area and champagne flowed all the way into the wee hours of the morning.
- Scoffing lemon tarts from the bakery perched on a little bench near the window enjoying the afternoon sun.
- Pondering the odd smell in the kitchen only to realize the smell was from the ripe Brie I had bought at the market the day before.
- Finding the shower gel Jessica left in the shower which smelt of lemon pound cake which I had to go out and buy – after all if I was going to emerge myself in Parisian culture I had to smell like a perisian!
- Enjoying sundowners of crisp Sauvignon blank and oysters in the hot summer afternoons after a full day spent exploring the city.
- reading in the afternoon sun that seemed never to set given it only disappears at around 9pm in the summer
I’m so glad that I decided to go the route of renting an apartment rather than a stuffy hotel room in Paris. By the time I left I also felt like I had made a new friend in Paris named Jessica, even though I hadn’t actually met her. I think the experience of staying in her apartment totally changed how I got to see and experience the city. Merci Jessica!